The Magic Christian(1969)

Article 4520 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-30-2014
Directed by Joseph McGrath
Featuring Peter Sellers, Ringo Starr, Isabel Jeans
Country: UK
What it is: Satire

A tycoon adopts a homeless man as his son, and shows him his mission in life – to find out if every man has his price.

I was fairly slow on the uptake on this movie, as some of the early scenes had me scratching my head. However, I finally did light on the key subject of this satire, thanks to a few scenes which made it explicit; it’s basically a satire on just how easy it is to corrupt someone or get them to undergo something disgusting if you have enough money. Once I reached that understanding, the movie became rather obvious in its message. Fortunately, the movie is loaded with fun little cameos to hold the interest, and sometimes the movie can be quite creative in finding ways to get people to do strange things. I did find myself wondering what the fantastic content would turn out to be, and was wondering if the general surreal air of the proceedings was it. However, near the end of the movie, there are a few events that give it some definite fantastic touchstones; I’m not going to give them away, but if you consider this list of cameo appearances (Richard Attenborough, Laurence Harvey, Christopher Lee, Spike Milligan, Raquel Welch, Roman Polanski, pre-Monty Python John Cleese and Graham Chapman, and an uncredited Yul Brynner), you’ll probably light on the one who provides the greatest content of this sort. All in all, I found the movie entertaining enough, though I suspect it would get tiresome with repeat viewings. Incidentally, my favorite cameo was Brynner’s.

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